As the 2021 Minor League season went into the books, some players entered their names in bold.
A 21-year-old shortstop displaying elite abilities with all five tools. A hard-throwing righty with a changeup even better than his upper-90s fastball. A 2017 first-rounder who catapulted himself to the bigs on a barrage of extra-base hits.
Minor League Baseball announced end-of-season All-Star teams, Most Valuable Players, Pitchers of the Year and Top MLB Prospects for the Triple-A East and Triple-A West on Tuesday, with the Royals' Bobby Witt Jr. and Jackson Kowar, the Astros' Peter Solomon, the Angels' Jo Adell, the Tigers' Aderlin Rodríguez and the Mariners' José Marmolejos earning special honors.
The Astros-affiliated Sugar Land Skeeters were the most represented club, landing five players on the Triple-A West All-Star list.
Witt, the Triple-A East MLB Prospect of the Year, batted .285/.352/.581 with 17 homers, 24 doubles and 15 steals over 62 games since being promoted to the Omaha Storm Chasers on July 20. His performance at the Minors' highest rung combined with his numbers for Double-A Northwest Arkansas gave him 33 homers, 35 doubles and 29 steals for the year. The Royals' top prospect (and MLB's No. 3) would have made the 30-30 club had it not been for a Sept. 30 rain-related cancelation after the third inning, which nullified theft No. 30.
Featuring a 60-grade glove and an arm to match at shortstop, Witt made highlight-reel worthy defensive plays for the Storm Chasers.
Adell was named Top MLB Prospect in the Triple-A West. A steady producer when healthy throughout his Minors career, the Angels outfielder put everything together to meet lofty expectations and -- eventually -- reach the big leagues this year. He generated a .289/.342/.592 slash line with 23 homers, 17 doubles and four triples over 73 games for the Salt Lake Bees. Adell got a callup to Los Angeles on Aug. 2, and he had 11 extra-base hits over 35 games before being sidelined with a left abdominal strain.
Rodríguez, a 29-year-old first baseman, socked a career-high 29 homers while batting .290/.362/.565 for the Toledo Mud Hens to win Triple-A East MVP honors. He led the entire level with 245 total bases, 94 RBIs and 58 extra-base hits.
Marmolejos, 28, is the Triple-A West MVP, having mashed as a first baseman, corner outfielder and designated hitter for the Tacoma Rainiers. He led the league with a .338 average, a .439 on-base percentage and a .672 slugging percentage, and his 26 dingers were fifth. His 1.111 OPS was the highest of any qualified Triple-A player. Marmolejos elected free agency on Tuesday.
Kowar, a teammate of Witt on Omaha, struck out 115 and walked 34 over 80 2/3 innings to be named Pitcher of the Year in the Triple-A East. With a superb fastball-changeup combination that keeps even the most advanced hitters off-balance, the right-hander went 9-4 with a 3.46 ERA across 17 games -- 16 starts -- at the Triple-A level before finishing the year in the Kansas City rotation.
Solomon, Houston's No. 10 prospect, is Pitcher of the Year for the Triple-A West. He was third in the league with 112 strikeouts, and he walked 42 over 97 2/3 innings. The 25-year-old righty was 8-1 with a 4.70 ERA for the Skeeters, and he stayed locked in despite bouncing back and forth between Sugar Land and the Majors throughout the season.
Joining Solomon from the Skeeters on the Triple-A West All-Star list are shortstop C.J. Hinojosa, outfielders Jose Siri and Jake Meyers and reliever Ronel Blanco. Sugar Land went 75-55 for the best record in the league's East Division.
The end-of-season honors were voted upon by league broadcasters, Minor League Baseball executives and select members of the media.